wildlife

West Virginia’s Newest Predator

No matter how you stand on the issue of hunting/trapping it seems to take a different tone in rural places where farming is a way of life and predator hunting is seen as a vital part of protection for livestock. West Virginia like many eastern states is seeing an invasion of a new kind of predator. The Coyote is a relatively new member to the Appalachian ecosystem as migration of the Eastern Coyote ( a cross bred coyote and wolf)  has taken generations to happen. But the population is growing and more people are discovering what western folks have always known. No one wants a Coyote in the chicken house! So what to do with the increasing populations of non-native predators in our state?

coyote-pa-sports

Shy Coyote in Pennsylvania

The West Virginia Department of Wild Life has stated this on their Coyote research website page. “Predator control of coyotes preying on livestock should be restricted to targeted animals. Although bounties have been liberally used on coyotes in the west, no bounty system has ever worked. Liberal trapping seasons for the coyote should continue. Methods to encourage the sport of predator calling and means to target the coyote as a fur-bearer and game animal should be explored.

It is a challenging to be a farmer or rancher to start with, but to hear the yipping and howling of a pack of Coyotes from the front porch of your farm can be unnerving. Over the 18 years that we lived and worked our farm Coyotes were only in our area the last 6 to 8 years. It was often in the fall and winter that we heard the late night howling of the dogs.  Often it was during the early spring foaling season on the farm and same time of the year that our neighbors cattle were calving out in the pasture. By the end of  February  and March we would often see our friends out tending to the new-born calves and would meet along a fence row and talk about the winter weather and how the babies were growing. Often Tom and I would hear about the calves that were killed by Coyotes. It is tragic but one new born calf is no match for 3 or 4 Coyotes. Even today  we often spend time with farmers who raise sheep and goats who have purchased “watch animals” like Donkeys to protect the herd from the preying eyes of the dogs. The Coyote topic is becoming more common in my circle of friends. No farmer wants to lose his income to a predator. Losing one calf is a real financial  blow to a farmer. So hunting the mysterious animal is becoming big sport in the hills and hallows.

Within a 50 mile radius of our home there are 3 Coyote hunting contests every winter. Coyotes are legal game year around and electronic calls and artificial light or night vision hunting is legal from Jan to July. There are no bag limits, daily,seasonally or annually. So all a person needs is to hold a legal West Virginia hunting / trapping license to pursue a Coyote. Even with this liberal policy the Coyote population is growning and the conflict continues to rise.

So this fall as my husband and son were out deer hunting they watched a pack of three coyote running through the woods chasing a doe deer. It was a within a five-minute walk to a friend’s house where they roamed. They were close enough that if you walked your dog you may be confronted with them. I was shocked even after hearing them in the darkness night after night to think that they were hunting so close to our families farm and even closer to our nieghbors house.

What would you do? What will most of the rural farm families do when this happens to them? When is wild life to close for comfort? Do we need to lose life stock and small pets before it is allowable to remove the threat? The need to answer these questions are being raised in West Virginia, Pennsylvanian and Virginia.The Department of Wild Life of West Virginia says it is OK to protect and defend, so my husband felt that it was in the best interest of that doe and my neighbors dogs and cats to harvest two of the three Coyotes that day.

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Coyote dead in the West Virginia Woods 2016

I sit here and wonder if the Coyote will be to West Virginia and Pennsylvanian what the wild boar is to Florida and Georgia. An animal that causes more damage than good in the ecosystem and ends up on the front page of the DRN’s list of problems. I know for now that with the help of hunters and trappers we may have a chance to keep the Coyote out of the chicken house but we may need more professional help like Florida and Georgia have resorted to for their pig problems. What the future holds for farmers and Coyotes is unknown but I do know that the problem is not going away any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, coyote, deer hunting, equine health, Farming, Hunting, natural resources, West Virginia, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

A Family Tradition: Deer Season Opening Day Nov 27th 2014

I was born into a hunting family, I married into a hunting family and I am now raising my own little hunters. So if you find hunting or eating wild game offensive please skip this post. The hunting life style is a huge part of our everyday lives here in North Central West Virginia. Our family’s have hunted for wild game for generations. This is a wonderful photo of my husbands Grand Father with a 28 point buck that shot some time in the 1950’s in Randolph County West Virginia.

Thomas Bennton Powers  with his monster buck

Thomas Benton Powers with his monster buck

My father on the other hand hunted for Elk and Mule deer in the mountains of Colorado. Both families eat what they hunted and were subsistence hunters. This was a way to feed their  family’s through long cold winters and lower the cost of having sometimes 4 to 8 children.

So hunting in my family today is less important to sustain our smaller families, but is still a deeply rooted part of who we are as people. It is on these cold dark November mornings that sometimes three and ever four generations gather together after working long hours all summer to find time to finally visit. In most cases the whole family gets involved in some way, some cook food for the hunters who roam in and out, some butcher, some hunt, some grind and pack but every one takes part in the opening of Deer Season.

Toms dad with a nice buck in the 1980's

Toms dad with a nice buck in the 1980’s

Tradition is that Grandma starts Grandpa’s coffee pot around 5:00 a.m. on opening morning. The sisters get chili on the stove for lunch and I  wash knives clean grinders and get butcher paper out and get ready to butcher.The drive way slowly fills with trucks and SUV’s and at 5:45 a.m. just about everyone in the family besides the smallest children are up eating a hardy breakfast going over plans for the day. Before the death of my father-in-law mornings in the kitchen sometime warmed 10 people ready to head to the woods looking for a deer that was worth the effort of dragging home.

Cody A Powers age 8 first deer.. 1998... 78 years after the above photo of his great grandfathers deer

Cody A Powers age 9 first deer.. 2000… 50 years after the above photo of his great grandfathers deer

In our family it is not only the men who hunt and my daughter in law and myself have hunted and learned the rules of safe hunting. We are not able to hunt as often as the men but we enjoy what time we can spend in the cool quite mountain air just like they do. The hunting sport is very adaptable for anyone who choose to have the experience. My son who is 6 will hunt with his dad this year although he is not allowed to kill any thing until he is 8 years old. I will hunt later in the year after the Thanksgiving rush is over and go muzzle-loader hunting in Dec. if my foot allows. My daughter in laws brother who is a paraplegic will hunt from his truck in a mountain meadow with a friend again this year. The people who enjoy the hunting experience are as different as any group but share one common believe. That hunting is a gift, that nature should be shared and protected. That the more time we are able to get back to our roots the better we are as people.

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Opening day of deer season young couple hunting together(Cody and Jamie Powers)

Hunting teaches so many lessons that are rarely learned any place else. First is of course is gun safety and second is the lesson about life and death. It is in a hunters first kill that they discover the emotional and moral consequences of killing another being. There are many people who after that first kill discover that hunting is NOT EASY. It is not a prideful experience and many people chose to never do it again. Then there are others who give thanks for what they have received from the earth and know that with the loss of one life, ours will continue. It is one of the only ways that a person can feel that they are truly part of the cycle of life. That you are a living part of nature, part of a system that is older than the human race.

Cody at 22 years old with his 1st wild turkey.

Cody at 22 years old with his 1st wild turkey.

I know that there are bad people everywhere and the hunting community has their share. I can’t tell you that people do not poach wild animals, I can’t tell you that people don’t trophy hunt. I can’t tell you that people don’t get hurt while hunting, guns are dangerous and deadly. What I can tell you is this, that the time shared outside with a grandfather or grandmother is what teaches the next generation about the meaning of life. It is the connection from one generation to the next that forms a bond of education and respect. I want my sons and grandsons to have the same experiences and life lessons that my husband and I have had in the woods. It is from generations back that we teach others how to have respect for what the land gives to us.

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

So as opening morning of deer season approaches the excitement builds. The guns get cleaned, the warm gloves are found, friends called and plans confirmed. When dawn comes you experance a fall sunrise through the trees, watch steam rise from an icy pond, listening to chip monk chattering in the leaves and see hunting in a different way. It really isn’t about killing at all. It is about family and wild life and the glory of an early morning in the woods.

Tom and Christopher getting ready to hunt together age 5

Tom and Christopher getting ready to hunt together age 5

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Cody, deer hunting, family memories, Hunting, natural resources, Seneca Rocks, Uncategorized, Venison, wild food, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wild Turkey, and our the dinner table

  Turkey season in West Virginia starts on the first week of May and runs through to the end of the month. My Husband started hunting the timid birds as  teen with some success, but  had taken many years off from hunting them recently. With more time to pursue hunting, Tom thought it would nice to see if turkeys were still in the area. Within  two trips to the woods he brough home this. A nice gobbler that was not to old to eat and enjoy.

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Then  my husband teased our older son Cody  “you need to see if you could keep up with the old man” and get one for himself. Well in “show up  my dad style” my son also got his turkey the very next day. Two large gobblers in two days what a great weekend.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 So early friday morning I got my first lesson on wild turkey cleaning, processing and cooking. With the help of family friends, we were able to get a quick lesson on cleaning a turkey.Ken suggested that we “NOT CLEAN” the whole bird. “You will only need to clean the whole bird if you are not going to roast it” he stated.Ken also suggested that we only “remove the breast and thighs of the bird to eat and leave the rest.” So by mid morning,working on the tail gate of our pick up, my husband and I removed the parts of the bird that we planed to eat. We also removed the tail fathers and wings for crafts with natural fathers. By skinning the bird instead of plucking it, the entire process took less than 20 minutes we had no feathers to remove and no entrails to clean up. The meat was fresh and clean and ready to eat or freeze quicker then I could drive to the local store to buy meat.

  With the meat removed, washed and frozen. I started the process of looking and asking friends about their favorite Wild Turkey recipes. Wild Turkey is extremely low in fat and moisture and can easily be over cooked. So, with this in mind I went to the National Wild Turkey Federations web site for help…at www.nwtf.org/tips_adventures/recipes.php. They have a nice collection of recipes and Tom and I chose one for Turkey cutlets.

 The process is very simple and the list of ingredients is short, almost everyone will have these items in their home. All of these items can switched out with store-bought organics… making a 100% organic main course

2 whole wild turkey breasts

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing ( I use Wishbone)

1/4 of a pound real butter

First take the wild turkey breast and cut slices across the grain of the meat about 1/4 of an inch thick. The slices will vary in size, some  large and some small. I also cut the tender strip of meat that is on the back of the breast and removed the tough tissues  from its middle section before cooking.  

Place all the these pieces into a  gallon zip lock bag adding enough zesty italian salad dressing to cover the turkey and mix dressing  into the  meat to cover every piece.

Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Turkey cutlets after  marinading for 3 hours

Turkey cutlets after 3 hours in marinade

heat 3 teaspoons butter in large skillet and roll cutlets in remaining ingredients of flour, salt and pepper mixture.

Fry cutlets over low heat until turkey is firm and is easily picked up with a fork. This may take more time for larger cutlets and short time for smaller ones.

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Turkey cutlets cooking

Turkey cutlets cooking

 Brown them slowly on both sides( low to low-med heat) adding butter as needed. I remove the first batch to a paper towel covered plate, putting them in a 200 deg oven to keep warm, as I fry the next batch of turkey. Two breasts easily feeds 4 to 5 adults and we have found that the kids love these home-made turkey tenders also.When serving the cutlets if they are not cooked to long, we omit any sauces. But, if you like to dip chicken/ turkey in a  sauce we used honey mustard, and it was very good.

The flavor of the turkey is mild, yet more buttery then domestic turkey,  cooked this way it has become a family favorite. As of this weekend, we have eaten every bite of the 4 turkey breasts the boys brought home this spring. My family will have to wait until next year to have this dinner again, and that is a long time coming. Now I may just have to get my gun out and get my own next year.

Happy hunting and cooking, hope to have another Wild Turkey recipe posted soon.Wild Turkey Pot Pie… this one is our own family creation. I just have to redo the spices and type up some thing our family already loves.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, country cooking, Hunting, organic foods, West Virginia, wild food, Wild turkey, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back Woods Wonders in West Virginia

      Treasures found in the back woods of West Virginia.. photos and notes on the things we have seen and found on our trips into the Appalachian forest.

Snail on river moss, cleveland, WV

Snail on river moss, Cleveland, WV

     My subject is one that is near and dear to my heart. This post allows me to  shows off some of the photos I have taken over the years that we have lived in the Mountain State. West Virginia is abundant with wildlife and the scenery is both  mysterious and enchanting. Many times it has  reminded me of all of those fairytale and fables written about the woods. My personal favorite to use as an example is the story of Hansel and Geritol who get lost in the dark woods. Here in our forgotten state where technology still takes a back seat to wildness I have found my love and my gingerbread house hidden in the woods.

    Growing up in Boulder,Colorado, we saw deer, rabbits, coons, and occasionally a fox. Impressed and fascinated with every thing nature had to offer I read and studied our local wild life.I wanted to know more and see more. This passion to understand wild life, its conservation, and how to live a more natural life became building blocks of who I wanted to be as an adult. Maybe watching to many episodes of “Grizzly Adams” had something  to do with my life choices. I wanted to marry “Adams”, I wanted to be in the forest with him, living off the land, eating wild game, making dinner over a fire. I wanted to have friends who were trappers and miners.  I wanted to save people from the cities from getting lost in the wilderness. I wanted a Buck Skinner life, a Pioneer woman.

Funny how a young persons dreams of life can foreshadow  reality. After years of working towards my dream, I have almost reach this goal. I married a wonderful man who loves the woods as much as I do. Tom is a person who sees the value of all of the things the hard wood forest has to offers. We are a family who supports conversation with an eye towards the sports men who donate millions every year to protect what it is that they love. We live conventionally and not in a rustic cabin with no running water, but we do spend almost every free time we have working with or around animals, wild life, and trying to live off the land. I still dream of a small cabin with a wood stove and a hand pump for water  but that will be a vacation cabin out in the woods someday. 

Mary Conrad cabin Jacksons Mill. Jane Lew West Virigina

Mary Conrad cabin Jackson’s’ Mill. Jane Lew West Virginia

Codys' proud catch of the day

Cody’s proud catch of the day

Tom and I have been lucky over the years.  We  have been able to share our love of the outdoors  with our kids. Cody now 22 and is  an avid outdoors man himself. He often surprises us with his skills with a compound bow and fishing pole. This was a rather good day of fishing at Holly River State Park. The fishing was excellent with many caught and released that morning. I was lucky to get a few put in the freezer for later use.

Cody with his native and brook trout

Cody with his native and brook trout

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

     Most of our adventures, we are up long before daylight and we return only after a long day. Fishing, Hunting, Hiking ,Ramp Digging all take lots of daylight hours to accomplish.  While on a long drive to a secret fishing hole I stopped the car and took these photos. The sun had just risen over the trees and began its climb into the sky to burn off the fog that is ever-present in the winding hills of West Virginia.

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Locus tree nut pod

Locus tree nut pod

Spring Wild flower

Spring Wild flower

    With Christopher being so young we try  to keep things simple and interesting at the same time. We spend many hours looking for hidden treasures and wonders of wild life that he at four years old he can understand. We spend many afternoons looking closely at the ground or at his eye level. He loves hunting nuts, seed pods, berries, and flowers. His education about respect, understanding and love for the mountains begins here… with a snail, flower, and nut. It is in the peace and beauty of a stream that he learns about pollution and how it hurts the environment, how it kills fish and makes the family unhappy. He is able to understand that much at about nature at four, and it is important that he does.

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virigina

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virginia

     While in the woods my family forages and hunts. We eat many of the wild plants and animals that nature provides for our use and we expand the collection every year. This year we have adding the foraging of Mushrooms and Fiddle Head Ferns to our list and will at some point in the future add Wild Hog to our diet.  It is always a delight to find and eat wild plants and animals. Here is one of my favorite edibles and things to photograph…. wild colorful mushrooms. Some of the mushrooms photographed here are very poisonous.

collection of Wild Mushrooms

collection of Wild Mushrooms

  I am not sure what it is about fungus that fascinates me, but I always have time to photograph a new style or color.

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 I also wanted to include pictures of the deer and turkeys and other animals that we see and hunt in West Virgina. But many of the photo I have taken are actually after the hunt is over and are trophy shots. Some readers find these offensive and I will refrain from sharing those photos. I now realise that I do not have many good photos of the live animals themselves. I hope to remedy the situation over the next few months, so that a post like this is full of good photos of live animals in their natural surrounds.

   Funny what we take photos of isn’t it ? I never realised that I loved seeing deer in our back yard but never took a photos of  them?  These are  my most current deer photos, they are not overly well shot, but you can get the feel of how friendly they can become over time.

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule and a calico cat

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule a calico cat and white tail doe

This deer is comfortable to seeing Mini the Mule in her pasture but when we came to visit, she was curious about Christopher and they looked each other over for a long time.

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

Fall Follage in Fayettevill,Wet Virginia

fall foliage in Fayetteville,Wet Virginia

  These are the woods that I  love and depended on for my “dream come true”. It still surprises me that I am able to live a life where I am part of nature on a daily basis. The woods have taught me so much about being true to myself and a strong individual. Yes, I love my computer and internet but they are only tools that I use to share my love of the outdoors with you. It is in the woods that I find my peace and my connection with the universe. These woods nourish my body and my soul. It took  almost 45 years to get here to this place where I was living true to my heart.I now realise that my dream of child hood is coming true, that I am a woodsman’s wife, a Pioneer Woman, a Mother and a Steward of the Woods. I am strong and free and able to rejoice in the mountains and streams of  Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

Sharing with a wordless Wednesday blog hop.

http://www.craftyspices.com/hops/wwhop

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, deer, Hardwood forest, photo review, Photos, State Park activities, West Virginia, wild food, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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